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Pro Sports

Kasey Kahne to stay in NASCAR, will drive for Leavine in 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kasey Kahne will stay in NASCAR next season and drive for Leavine Family Racing in the No. 95 Chevrolet Camaro.

He will replace Michael McDowell, who has driven that car since 2014.

The announcement Tuesday was not unexpected, but Kahne last week revealed he’d given consideration to piecing together a dream schedule of big races in different series.

Although he stressed his first goal was to remain in NASCAR, his idea led at least one IndyCar owner to inquire about Kahne’s availability for the Indianapolis 500.

Instead, he will move to a mid-level race team that is trying to move up the ladder.

“We look at this as an opportunity to go to the next level,” said team owner Bob Leavine. “This deals partially with performance, because obviously, Kasey is a playoff-caliber driver. He has a wealth of information being with a larger organization like Hendrick Motorsports, and we think that will help us. We also look at this as an opportunity for marketing to be able to sell sponsorship.”

Leavine will continue his alliance next year with Richard Childress Racing.

Kahne has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2012, but the team bought him out of his contract for next season. He became a free agent shortly after his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July earned him a spot in the playoffs.  Kahne had a rough opening round to the playoffs  at Chicagoland, where he finished 21st and is 15th in the 16-driver field.

Kahne’s crew chief was replaced on Monday.

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